Season Four has been described as somewhat of a reboot by creator Kurt Sutter, but not in the sense that most people might think. Though there was definitely a feeling of starting fresh in tonight’s premiere, that doesn’t mean that all of the stuff that happened in the past has been forgotten. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, because the trouble that SAMCRO has gotten into this time around is a direct result of everything they’ve done in the past. They might not know the full extent of it just yet, but they certainly got a taste of what’s to come upon their arrival back in Charming.
Clay, Jax and the rest of the guys may be ready to get back to work, but there’s a new sheriff in town in the form of Eli Roosevelt who’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen. Not only does Roosevelt have the full backing of Jacob Hale (who’s now mayor of Charming and moving ahead with plans to build luxury housing), but he’s a real by-the-books kind of guy with previous experience working with gangs, which apparently SAMCRO is now considered under the letter of the law. He also has another powerful ally in Lincoln Potter (what’s with all the characters named after former presidents?), an Assistant U.S. Attorney who requests Roosevelt’s help on a case that he’s quietly building against the Russians, the Real IRA and SAMCRO that would allow the FBI to take out all three of them in one fell swoop under the RICO Act.
Though the Russians weren’t too happy with the way that SAMCRO double-crossed them at the end of last season (nearly killing Jax in prison as retaliation), the two parties have since managed to make peace in order to continue doing business together. Meeting with Russian boss Putlova over the conditions of that deal was at the top of Clay’s to-do list as soon as he was released from prison. But when he realizes that the club is being watched like a hawk by Roosevelt’s men, the Sons devise a clever plan to distract the cops so that Clay, Jax and Opie can meet with Putlova without anyone knowing. And that ultimately proved to be more important than it was made to seem, because SAMCRO’s newfound partnership with the Russians didn’t last for very long.
You almost have to feel bad for those silly Ruskies, because who would have thought that the Sons would screw them over twice? Getting rid of their new partners may have been a necessary move, and it even helped Clay’s plan to ruin Hale’s housing development by dumping the dead bodies on his land, but they’re going to be in for quite the surprise when they learn that one of the Russians that was killed was actually an undercover FBI agent. It’s hard to tell whether or not that will expedite Lincoln’s investigation or actually buy SAMCRO more time, but as always, I can’t wait to find out.
Other thoughts from the episode:
* It’s cool to see that Kozik was finally voted into the Redwood charter (although word on the street is that Kenny Johnson is only going to be around for a handful of episodes this season), but why is Tig suddenly okay with it? And perhaps more importantly, why do they seem so buddy-buddy all of a sudden? Doesn’t Tig hate Kozik?
* If there’s ever a nuclear holocaust, I’m now convinced that three things will survive: cockroaches, Keith Richards and Otto. I thought for sure that he was a goner after slitting his wrists in the opening montage, but it was just a ploy to get him into the same room as one of the Russians so that he could exact revenge for the attack on Jax. Even still, it’s incredible what this guy has managed to survive over the last few years.
* This isn’t the first time that Clay’s arthritis has been mentioned, but it’s clearly got him thinking about how many more years he has left in the club. Fans shouldn’t worry too much, though, because he’ll likely stick around as long as the show is still on the air.
* And that brings me to my next point. After Jax proposed to Tara, she voiced her concerns about marrying into the outlaw life, leading him to reveal his plans to leave SAMCRO for good once Clay is forced to step down. Unfortunately, I think that they’re going to be waiting a little longer than either of them expects, especially if Gemma has anything to say about it. That woman has a way of always getting what she wants.
* That had to be one of the most unconventional weddings that I’ve ever seen. Opie at least threw on a nice dress shirt underneath his cut, but Lyla looked more like a stripper than a bride. Let’s also not forget that the whole celebration was used as cover for the Sons’ slaughter of the Russians, which is in and of itself pretty hilarious.
* As a fan of “The Shield,” it was great to see David Rees Snell pop up as one of the ATF agents working for Lincoln. I’m not sure how big of a role he’ll play this season, but Benito Martinez is also scheduled to appear, so it’s almost like a mini-reunion. Does anyone want to put a wager on who the next “Shield” alum to guest star will be?